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Public relations

An ideologue and an expert: two approaches to TV interviews

Perhaps I’m just biased against vegans, but in this Canadian television news broadcast about children’s diets, I definitely find the second guest’s interview technique more convincing. The first speaker, Ruby Roth, presents a bizarre case against meat, saying that carnivores in nature “don’t shy away from gore and blood” and eat nails and hair. Which doesn’t seem to be relevant. She also has an unfortunate whinny, high-pitched voice. Not her fault, of course, but it does affect how she comes across.

The second guest, Sally Fallon Morell, is head of the Weston A Price Foundation, which advocates traditional diets. She engages with the interviewer more directly. She has scientific results on hand (“There were studies done on vegan children in Holland…”) which makes her come across as informed. And she wins viewers over by being very moderate in her rhetoric (“Now I understand her concern” about animal welfare, and advocates buying pasture-fed animals from farmers markets etc). Moreover, she has a wonderful soundbite. ”Let’s not sacrifice our children’s health” when worrying about animals.

Regardless of the actual merits of each side, the result of both guests’ interviews is that the viewer is left with the impression that the first guest is an ideologue while the second one is an entirely reasonable person.